There no worse practice than when a set of bowlers practice one element of the game; and the batters try to work on another element entirely.
Disjointed net sessions are counterproductive because nobody gets what they want: least of all you as the coach.
But you can turn your bog standard net session into a fun, competitive, specific and highly functional practice
Just make these 3 simple changes to your practice approach.
1. Give it a name
Rather than just have a practice session, make sure everyone knows what the theme for the day is by giving it a name.
This can be in relation to a certain game format (T20 for example), a section of the game (playing of spin or Death Cricket) or a way of shifting an approach or mind-set within you team (Innovation Net – Batters experimenting with shots and bowlers trying new slower balls of angles on the crease).
- It gets people thinking rather than just doing.
- It allows you to be targeted at practice.
The result is lots of conversation, talking of plans, working things out and helps to keep a discipline to longer sessions.
2. Bat in pairs
Admit it, in your sessions not everyone gets a bat.
This is deftly avoided by batting in pairs, just as you do in a match. You can get through a whole squad in a 2 hour session by pairing up players.
Rotate the strike every 3rd ball by making the pair run a 3 or a quick single and with that you incorporate many functional elements of the game:
- The effect of fatigue on decision making and an opportunity to work on coping strategies for fatigue
- Bowlers bowling at a different batter who may require a different line, length or plan of attack
- You can either bat people in the order that they bat on a weekend or a good idea is to occasionally pair up a top order batter with lower order players and you find that the lower order player learns by watching his partner up close.
A great tool for this method is BATEX
3. 10 Point net sessions
Each batter starts with 10 points and can gain a point for performing a task well and loses a point for making an error. The batting session ends when the points run out and he/she reaches 0.
This puts a price on someone’s wicket, provides competition between players and means that a player has the opportunity to bat long if they are disciplined.
- Using feet to spin and hitting the ball cleanly past/over the bowlers head in a coned out area
- Performing a well-executed drop and run single (Batter sprints 10 yards and then returns to the crease)
- Hitting a boundary on the floor with a good connection
- Play and Miss
- Hit on the pad
- Dismissal (-3)
Lower the starting number as batters get better and better at managing the task or if time is limited for the session. Increase the difficulty to keep the net fresh and competition high
Play the 10 point game with a pair of batters to build partnerships that go on to work well in matches.
Make up your own plus and minus points based on areas of the game that you want the team to develop.
I once used this when Somerset were developing their spin play on turning pitches and a well-connected and controlled sweep was worth +2 points.
So now there is no need to have a dull net in the future.
They will all be competitive, challenging and enjoyable net practices that bring improved performances and better results come match day.